President Donald Trump was left "fuming" following his rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday, which saw an "underwhelming" number of supporters in attendance. Although nearly a million people had registered interest in the event, according to Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale, only around 6,200 people showed up, leaving the 19,000 seat arena cast in a wave of blue empty seats and the president furious.
Following the Saturday event, which marked the president’s first campaign rally since March, multiple people close to the White House spoke to NBC News, detailing the president's reaction to the unfavorable turnout. They claimed that Trump's sour attitude was prompted even before people began filing into the BOK Center. Hours ahead of the rally, Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh confirmed that six members of Trump's campaign staff had tested positive for the coronavirus. According to those close to the matter, the president was annoyed that the information had been exposed and that the news dominated coverage ahead of the rally.
Although the president had reportedly learned of the low turnout while aboard Air Force One, according to The New York Times, his upset boiled over as he stood behind a curtain backstage and saw for himself the thousands of empty seats. Sources alleged that Trump "was stunned" by the low numbers and "yelled at aides backstage." As he took the stage and began his two-hour-long remarks, the president's mood lightened, though by the end of the rally and as he left the stage, Trump "was mostly muted," the sources claimed.
A number of reasons have been given for the low turnout, including the ongoing protests, the coronavirus pandemic, and the intense heat on Saturday. Many have also credited young TikTok users and K-pop fans for inflating expectations for the rally. Across social media, many people have claimed that they and others registered interest in the rally by the thousands with no intention of actually attending. In a statement, Parscale, who blasted "leftists and online trolls," blamed the low turnout on the media. According to Parscale, "a week's worth of the fake news media warning people away from the rally because of Covid and protesters, coupled with recent images of American cities on fire, had a real impact on people bringing their families and children to the rally."
Trump's reelection campaign, meanwhile, has attempted to shift the focus to online attendance. According to Murtaugh, and as reported by The Hill, the rally "attracted over 4 million unique viewers across all of the campaign's digital media channels" and the "live-streamed pre-rally shows drew an audience of more than 2.5 million unique viewers."